The Winter Olympics sent KCBS-TV’s key demographic ratings soaring, with the station delivering two to three times its normal primetime levels during the February sweeps.

In Nielsen’s just-released Olympics exclusion book, which omits primetime and 11 p.m. slots affected by the two-week-long games, KCBS saw its 17.4 primetime rating among adults 25-54 with the Olympics drop to a 5.5 without the games.

The story was similar in other key demos, with women 18-49 falling to 5.4 from 16.5; men 18-49 dropping to 4.0 from 13.5; women 25-54 plunging to 6.6 from 19.0 and men 25-54 diving to 4.4 from 15.9.

Without the games, KCBS finished third in the seven-day primetime averages. KABC-TV beat KCBS by about 2 points in the crucial demo categories and KNBC by roughly 1 point.

Advertisers will look more to the exclusion book in primetime and late news time periods affected by the Olympics.

Bragging rights

From a revenue standpoint, demos are more important to stations than household ratings because advertisers target their buys toward specific age groups. Household ratings are basically good for bragging rights.

In the key late news race, KABC remained in first place among adults 25-54 in the exclusion book with a 4.4 rating from Monday-Friday. Still, the Alphabet web O&O finished down 30% in the key demo from the 6.3 it earned a year earlier, when news viewing levels rose because of heavy rains.

KNBC-TV, which finished second with adults 25-54, averaged a 3.9. That was off a few tenths from the previous February.

Tribune independent KTLA news, which leans heavily toward men, finished third in the category with a flat 3.6 rating at 10 p.m.

The primetime edition of Fox-owned KTTV’s news — with former KNBC anchor John Beard — moved into a tie with KCBS’ 11 p.m. news for fourth among adults 25-54 and led KTLA in women (posting the only growth in that category since November).

KTTV and KCBS each garnered a 3.0 rating with viewers age 25-54, with Fox the only station in the market to show any year-to-year growth in the bracket (up sixth-tenths). KCBS dropped a bit at 11 p.m., but the O&O not surprisingly led in all key male and female demos with the Olympics in its average.

Disney-owned indie KCAL-TV lost 41% of its 25-54 audience at 10 p.m., with the newscast sinking to 1.9 from 3.2 in February 1993. Chris-Craft/United indie KCOP’s primetime news finished down slightly with a meager 1.5.

With entertainment fare dominating in the 5-8 p.m. block, no early evening newscast earned more than a 3.8 rating in the important adult 25-54 demo.

KABC’s 5 p.m. news led the competition with a 3.8 rating in the category, down 1.1 points from the previous February.

Although the station was victorious in every news time period, it suffered the greatest year-to-year losses. The biggest decrease, 1.7 points, came at 6 p.m.

The only newscast to gain was KNBC’s 5 p.m. news, which rose half a point to 3.2. It held steady at 4 p.m. (1.9) and 6 p.m. (3.4).

5 o’clock low

KCBS crashed 39% at 5 p.m., falling to 1.7 from 2.8 in the adult group. At 6 p.m., the station collected a 2.4, down half a point from the previous year. KCAL’s 6:30 p.m. news plunged 30% to 1.6 from 2.3.

Meanwhile, the 25-54 audience flocked to entertainment fare in the critical three-hour early evening block. Not one news show finished in the top 10 among adults from 5-8 p.m.

The biggest year-to-year gainer in the key demo was KCBS’ “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol,” which leapt 2.2 points over “You Bet Your Life” to 4.2.

Other programs showing increases included KTTV’s “Cops,” which earned a 5.6 and improved the 6:30 p.m. slot by 1.8 points over “The Wonder Years.” KTTV’s 6 p.m. edition of “Married … With Children” rose a full point to 4.2.

KNBC’s “Entertainment Tonight” gained seven-tenths to 4.9, while KCOP’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” strip at 7 p.m. inched up a few notches to 5.2.

The two shows in the 5-8 p.m. block taking the biggest hits with adults were the 7 p.m. edition of”Married” and KCAL’s “Inside Edition.”

“Married” fell by 2.3 points to 4.3, representing a 34% year-to-year decrease. “Edition” suffered the worst percentage loss, tumbling 46% to 2.3.

Other losers in the key adult group included KABC’s 7 p.m. airing of “Jeopardy!,” down 1.4 points to 5.5; KTTV’s “A Current Affair” at 7:30 p.m., which lost 22% to 4.0; and KABC’s first-place “Wheel of Fortune” at 7:30 p.m., slipping half a point to 6.1.

In the 18-49 demo, considered secondary to the 25-54 group, last year’s leaders in the block (“Married,””Wheel” and “Jeopardy!”) were all down more than a point.

The 7 p.m. edition of “Married,” in fact, lost 2.2 points, while the gameshows were each off 1.4 points.

“Cops” jumped to the No. 1 position with the 18-49 group this year. It cuffed a 5.8, up from “The Wonder Year’s” 3.9, while “Star Trek” took second with a six-tenths gain to 5.3.

Oprah still the one

In the crowded daytime and early fringe talk race, KABC’s “Oprah Winfrey” at 3 p.m. once again dominated with a 6.3 among adults 25-54 and a 4.0 with women 25-54.

KCOP, however, captured the next two spots. “The Ricki Lake Show” at 5 p.m. took the silver for its 2.9 with adults and 3.5 with women. “Jenny Jones” at 2 p.m. walked away with the bronze after collecting a 2.2 for adults and 2.9 for women.

In latenight, KCBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” took top honors, finishing first among adults 25-54 and 18-49. Since Nielsen only eliminated all time periods where there was network Olympic coverage and the adjacent late newscasts, “Letterman’s” ratings were undoubtedly exaggerated.

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